In one word: Strange
Y’all. I am straight-up mad at Susanna Clarke. HOW DARE SHE BE SO TALENTED AND CLEVER. I was delighted and amazed by her hefty debut novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and picked this one up on the recommendation of many people. It’s a slim and unassuming-looking book but she packs more creativity and strangeness into it than should be possible in so few pages. It might be the weirdest book I’ve ever read, giving Danielewski’s “House of Leaves” some stiff competition. So, what are we thinking? HOW DOES SHE DO IT? Deal with the devil? Witchcraft? I’ve got my eye on you, Clarke.
Here’s the thing. You are not going to understand what’s happening in this book for a while. Pretty much the entire book. You will keep saying out loud (to yourself, and anyone in earshot). “What? Wait, what?! WHAT is HAPPENING? WHEN is happening?” It is a mystery, wrapped in another mystery, locked in a labyrinth, covered in a blanket of mythology. It’s a fantastical and confusing ride that you will not want to get off of. What I can tell you is that there is a character named Piranesi (duh) and he’s in a labyrinth of marble and water and statues. He’s wandering this seemingly limitless space as he journals his days. But who is he exactly, why he is there, and where is there? The rest you’re going to have to discover for yourself.
I’m positively ecstatic to discover she has a book written in between Strange and this one that I haven’t read yet, a collection of 10 stories, so I’m going to pick it up soon, once my immense rage and jealousy subside.